One feature that classical apocalyptic writings commonly share is their eschatological dimension, their "sense of an ending"1—the end of the world, of time, of humanity. But whereas traditional apocalyptic texts were for the most part utopian, their tales of destruction followed by narratives of redemption, modern secular apocalyptic literature is largely dystopian, ending in pure devastation. According to some scholars, the very arrival of modernity, beginning with Cartesian philosophy and its inherent doubt, was apocalyptic in nature. In the twentieth century, as Thomas Altizer has argued, no central literary work—from Rilke to Kafka and from Joyce to Beckett—managed to eschew the apocalyptic.2 Today, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, with the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 haunting many as a "ghost shadow of apocalypse," apocalyptic fears, hopes, and dreams of redemption are no less ubiquitous (Cook, 21).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Literature and Literary Theory